BPA Now Linked with Autoimmune Thyroid Disorder – Hashimoto’s
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BPA Linked with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
BPA has long been suspected as a trigger for autoimmune concerns, including autoimmune thyroid disorders. Proving this link has been very difficult. Cellular and animal studies have shown that BPA blocks thyroid receptor sitesand affects free T4 forming a strong correlation between BPA and thyroid autoimmunity. These studies, while a good foundation, have not provided a direct connection in humans. New research published just a few weeks ago, defined this link and offered another perspective on managing autoimmune thyroid disorders.
TPO Levels Primarily Affected
In November 2016, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published the first confirming evidence of BPA linked with autoimmune thyroid disorders in humans. Lab values were measured in 2361 adults for BPA with the three major thyroid antibodies. Results demonstrated that the TPO (thyroperoxidase) antibody levels (14.9%) were the highest followed by thyroglobulin (11.1%) and anti-TSH receptor sites (1.9%) antibodies. Lab measurements of BPA exceeded measurable detection limits in 51.9% of individuals with elevated thyroid antibodies. These individuals were toxic with BPA which caused their thyroid gland and TPO enzyme to be under autoimmune attack. Men and women were equally affected in this study.
TPO antibodies are considered the most important diagnostic marker of all three antibodies for Hashimoto’s. TPO is the enzyme responsible for thyroid hormone production and the conversion of T4 into T3. Ninety percent of patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have elevated TPO antibodies.
Elevated Antibody Levels and Silent Autoimmunity
Autoimmune inflammation starts slowly and silently. Thyroid antibodies may appear years or even decades before TSH changes occur. This is considered “silent autoimmunity”. At this stage, the antibodies are present, triggered by some agent, like BPA, elevated leptin, gluten or gluten associated cross reactive foods, or infectious agents like EBV and H Pylori. The immune system attacks the thyroid gland and symptoms arise like depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, etc., but TSH levels may not be impacted until the thyroid gland is significantly damaged. Each hit on the thyroid is like a tiny pinprick into a bag filled with liquid. The bag can initially hold the liquid, but as more pinholes are put in the bag, it significantly leaks, especially if pressure is put on it. Eventually all the liquid is gone and the bag (thyroid gland) is left empty or the gland is destroyed.
This new information on BPA and thyroid autoimmunity proves a relationship, but scientists do not know exactly how the process that occurs. Some theories focus on BPA’s impact on immune compounds like T-cells, Th1 and Th2. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and early in life is cited as another possibility. Dental amalgam fillings, which contain BPA are also a concern. Selenium deficiency, smoking and the toxins from tobacco smoke mixed in with genetic risks are also of concern. It will take more studies to answer the how and why questions of thyroid autoimmunity. For now, it is essential to know that BPA is linked with autoimmune thyroid problems in men and women alike.
FDA and BPA – Still Turning a Blind Eye to the Concern
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is one of the most widespread synthetic plasticizer compounds in the world. It has been used by the food manufacturing industry to line metal cans since the 1960’s. In addition to metal food and beverage cans, it is in plastic shatter resistant, heat resistant food containers, corrective eye wear like glasses and protective eye wear, visors, CDs, DVDs, sport safety equipment including helmets, shin guards, etc., thermal paper credit card receipts, electronic equipment, cell phones, laptops, electronic game consoles, automotive parts, gardening tools and equipment, the marine industry, metal roofing, steel furniture, medical plastics like IV tubing, and more.
The FDA’s current perspective (2016) is that “BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods. Based on the FDA’s ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging”. In light of recent evidence of autoimmune thyroid concerns, I would hope that you come to a different conclusion than the government. The FDA continues to drag its feet on BPA, failing to admit what researchers confirm.
We can limit our exposure from this “chemical soup” by choices that we make with food manufacturers, storage containers, credit cards slips, etc., but it is impossible to eliminate exposure completely. Because we cannot fully remove BPA from life, we MUST support detoxification of it and protect our body from its effect.
BPA Detoxification Depends on Crucial Nutrients
BPA depends on two major detoxification pathways in the liver, specifically Phase II glucuronidation and sulfation pathways. BPA and bisphenols are metabolized predominately by the glucuronidation reaction. Glucuronidation requires magnesium, B vitamins, and the amino acid glycine. While this may seem simple to support, B vitamins and magnesium are amongst the most lacking nutrients in the diet. These nutrients are easily depleted with stress and high carbohydrate diets. Numerous medications also strip these essential nutrients out of the body.
Phase II sulfation pathway within the liver provides additional support for BPA detoxification. Sulfation depends on the trace mineral molybdenum and the amino acids cysteine and methionine. Co-factors or nutrients that assist in the process are vitamins B12, folate (B9), B6 in their methylated/coenzyme form, magnesium, MSM sulfur, S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe), and taurine. Lack of any one of these nutrients, slows down or even prevents detoxification from occurring.
Protecting the Thyroid and TPO Enzyme
Several nutrients are required to protect the TPO enzyme, the enzyme responsible for thyroid hormone production. These include selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium, vitamins B2, B3 and B6, and vitamins A and D. Inadequate glutathione levels highly impacts the risk for thyroid autoimmunity and elevated TPO antibodies. Ashwagandha and guggul are herbal adaptogens that help balance thyroid function. Iodine is also helpful, but needs to be like Goldilocks in the children’s story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Too much and too little iodine are challenges for the body, especially when in forms not easily metabolized.
Autoimmune disorders are on the rise since the 1960’s and in epidemic proportions over the last 20 years. Hashimoto’s, the most common autoimmune thyroid disease in children and adults, is no different. We must be adamant about protecting ourselves, as the blind eye of government agencies is not interested in stopping the infiltration of toxic substances and man-made chemical soup. BPA isn’t just toxic to the thyroid, it affects other tissues in the body and creates concerns like PCOS and increased cancer risk.
With New Year resolutions still fresh in your mind, take it upon yourself to reduce exposure to BPA. It may require some changes and new habits. Make sure that you have a diet rich in colorful organic fruits and vegetables, high in fiber, and quality proteins to optimize detoxification. Re-evaluate food choices and packaging. Specifically focus on nutritional support for the glucuronidation and sulfation detoxification pathways. Protect the thyroid gland and TPO with key nutrients. Women who are pregnant and breast-feeding absolutely must be proactive with prevention and protection against BPA as prenatal life and infants are the most vulnerable of all. Take it upon yourself to make a resolution against BPA and for protecting your thyroid. Don’t wait for your “thyroid bag to get leaky” to make changes, as by that time it may be too late.
Guggul – This Ayurvedic herb is known for its ability to support thyroid hormone production. It is considered an adaptogen for the thyroid gland, helping the thyroid withstand stress. An additional benefit of guggul is that it helps increase liver antioxidant status. With BPA everywhere, extra antioxidants are needed for the liver.
Zinc – This trace mineral is often an unsung hero for detoxification and thyroid function. Athletes, growing children, high levels of stress, and profuse sweating leads to zinc deficiency. Diets are often lacking in zinc. White spots on the nails, stinky feet, acne, frequent infections, and poor thyroid health reflect the need for zinc.
B vitamins – Every single cell in the body requires one or more B vitamins to function. Without B vitamins, the glucuronidation pathway in the liver suffers. If the body is to detoxify its daily exposure of BPA, we must keep those B vitamins at optimal levels. Detoxification depends on the B vitamins in their co-enzyme or methylated forms.
Molybdenum – Molybdenum is a trace mineral that doesn’t get a lot of recognition for the important role it plays in the body. Molybdenum is essential for the sulfation detoxification pathway. It acts as a catalyst for cysteine and methionine and their metabolism. It helps clear aldehyde toxins, supports mitochondria activity, and helps the body manage uric acid levels.
Magnesium – Magnesium with glycine and B vitamins provide the backbone for detoxification of BPA and protecting the TPO enzyme and thyroid hormone. Magnesium with glycine is very easily absorbed and gentle for the body. Four out of five individuals are estimated to be deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is essential for all.